The Commodore crew are masters at creating contemporary dive bars, that feel as though they’ve been around forever. And The Drift is no different, having materialized without fanfare back in December, on a desolate stretch of Greenpoint along the BQE.
Like its forbears (including El Cortez, which erected a rising sun and a totem in lieu of standard signage, and of course, the utterly unmarked Commodore), it’s much more of an in-the-know neighborhood destination, rather than the type of spot outsiders might just happen to stumble across. Resolutely without theme, distinguishing personality flourishes run to a mounted bear head and a KISS pinball machine, and there are a scant handful of basic beers on tap, including Guinness, Fosters, and All Day IPA.
Brief cocktail menus forgo the team’s signature illustrations, although at this point, you’d have to have taken residence under a rock not to recognize The Commodore (a frozen, pineapple and cherry-speared piña colada with an amaretto float), or even the Orange Julio, an equally frosty El Cortez creation of gin and juice, elderflower and aperol. Neither Stephen Tanner nor Dennis Spina had a hand in the food offerings, but Alabama’s Mamie-Claire Cornelius seems to suit the style just fine. Embracing the exuberant, company-wide white trash tradition of pork boats and taco bowls, she’s devised a familiar, southern-leaning lineup of boiled peanuts and pimento cheese plates, and chopped rib, smoked chicken or mushroom sandwiches with mustard, all devoid of elevated, consciously clever chef embellishments. There may be smoked vidalias in the onion dip, but it’s a bit player next to mountains of Lay’s aggressively salted wavy chips.
Which is to say, none of it is especially worth an extended, on-foot expedition along the BQE, which should suit The Drift’s assembled cast of devoted regulars just fine.
579 Meeker Ave., Greenpoint